Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews returns to New Zealand to consider cathedral plans, sources say

The Christ Church Cathedral has been sitting derelict and open to the elements in the city centre for about five years.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

The Christ Church Cathedral has been sitting derelict and open to the elements in the city centre for about five years.

Bishop Victoria Matthews has returned to New Zealand to consider plans for the future of the Christ Church Cathedral, according to sources close to the process.

In June, the Government tasked a working group with breaking deadlock on the earthquake-damaged building, which has been holding up the redevelopment of Cathedral Square in central Christchurch.

The working group will make a non-binding recommendation on the building to Government and church trustees by November 28 with a public announcement planned for December 7.

Bishop Victoria Matthews has returned from an overseas trip.
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ

Bishop Victoria Matthews has returned from an overseas trip.

Matthews returned to Christchurch last week, earlier than some expected. Sources close to the working group said she had returned to consider what proposals the group was developing for the future of the cathedral. Sources also said there may be a restoration proposal drawn up by the working group for the bishop to consider.

READ MORE:
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The Anglican diocese would not confirm how long Matthews had been overseas or the purpose of the trip.

Working group chairman Geoff Dangerfield said in September that they were investigating how to "repair, restore and, in some parts, rebuild" the cathedral and were being "careful to ensure the building retains its external appearance as much as possible".

He said the group could only make recommendations on the cathedral.

"The working party is charged with reviewing options and making recommendations. It is up to [Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Gerry Brownlee] and the church to review those recommendations."

The Anglican cathedral has been sitting damaged in Christchurch's city centre for more than five years, with no clear decision on its possible fate.

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The working party comprises of high-profile Christchurch developer Alasdair Cassels, former Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority general manager Steve Wakefield, National Party regional chair Roger Bridge, Dangerfield and academic Sue McKenzie.

Dangerfield declined to comment. Anglican spokesman Jayson Rhodes declined to comment as part of a longstanding policy not to publicly comment on the cathedral until the working group reports back.

 - Stuff

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